The release of Iowa caucus results was delayed after inconsistencies in the reporting of data. “This is not a hack or an intrusion,” said a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party. The party is using photos of results and a paper trail to validate the results.
The lack of results didn’t stop multiple Democratic candidates from addressing their supporters late on Monday night. Nearly all claimed that they expected a strong finish in the state, whenever the results are eventually announced.
There are 41 delegates up for grabs, a tiny fraction of the 1,991 delegates needed to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
Here’s what you need to know:
‘Inconsistencies’ in caucus data lead to delay.
Results in the Iowa Democratic caucuses were delayed Monday evening, creating widespread confusion among the presidential campaigns. Party officials said the results had been delayed due to “inconsistencies” in the reporting of the results. The reporting problems are believed to have only delayed the results, not called them into question.
“We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results,” said Mandy McClure, the party’s communications director. “In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report. This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results.”
On a conference call with the presidential campaigns, Iowa Democratic Party officials said the delay was because of the new rules requiring caucus leaders to report three sets of numbers to party headquarters, rather than just the delegate totals.
Representatives from the campaigns became angry at the party officials, who hung up after being asked about when results might be known, according to two people who listened to the call.
Since the caucuses began 50 years ago, Iowa Democrats reported only one number: the delegate count from each of the state’s precincts.
But after the razor-close 2016 race in Iowa between Hillary Clinton and Mr. Sanders, Mr. Sanders’s allies pushed the Democratic National Committee to require caucus states to track and report the raw numbers of how many people backed each candidate.
For Iowa, the new reporting standards meant counting how many people backed each candidate on the first and second alignment. That change, requiring the reporting of three separate numbers from each of the state’s more than 1,600 precincts, has slowed the gathering of data to a crawl.
Additionally, many precinct chairs across the state abandoned the new app that was built to help tabulate and report results as they struggled to log in. They opted instead to use the telephone hotline to report.
“I have had three precincts unable to report results,” said William Baresel, the Floyd County chair.
Shawn Sebastian, the caucus secretary for a precinct in Story County, said he had spent an hour on hold with the state party to report the results. He finally got through while in the midst of an on-air interview with CNN, but the state party official hung up on him before he could relay the tallies.
In the hours before the caucuses began, Iowa Democratic Party officials received multiple calls from precinct chairs around the state reporting problems with the app. The state party dismissed the calls as related to user-error problems but they fueled speculation about hacking and other security issues.
Already, a number of prominent Democrats have questioned the role of Iowa casting the first ballots in the primary process, criticizing the largely white, older state as unrepresentative of the diversity of their party.
Technical issues, happening in the midst of such a highly-watched caucus, could contribute to doubts about Iowa’s standing in the primary process.
Cybersecurity experts warn of problems with app.
Christopher C. Krebs, the director of the Homeland Security Department’s cybersecurity agency, said late Monday evening that the mobile app being used in the caucuses had not been vetted or evaluated by the agency.
Cybersecurity experts also said that the app had not been properly tested at scale, and that it was hastily put together over the past two months. Iowa Democratic Party officials only decided to use the app to report results after a previous party proposal — which entailed having caucus participants call in their votes over the phone — was scrapped, on the advice of Democratic National Committee officials.
J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, and David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said Monday night that they had warned state officials that the mobile reporting app was vulnerable to what is known as a “denial of service attack,” in which hackers flood the central servers used to power the app with traffic, stalling them or knocking them offline.
“This app has never been used in any real election or tested at a statewide scale and it’s only been contemplated for use for two months now,” said Mr. Jefferson, who also serves on the board of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan election integrity organization.
“This is an embarrassment but it shouldn’t shake people’s confidence in the results,” Mr. Halderman said. “If this had been an election conducted by phone, or online, that would have been a major disaster. We might never know the results and would have had to re-run the entire contest.”
“This is an urgent reminder,” Mr. Halderman said, “of why online voting is not ready for prime time.”
Mr. Jefferson warned that Nevada is also currently slated to use a similar mobile app to report its caucus results in a few weeks.
Buttigieg claims victory before results are reported.
DES MOINES — Nature may abhor a vacuum, but candidates abhor it more.
And so, in the absence of any official results from the Iowa caucuses, they all tried to frame the vacuum in the best possible light.
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said she knew one thing: “We are punching above our weight.” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont joked about the delay and said he had “a good feeling” that when the results finally arrived, “we’re going to be doing very very well.” Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said he was going to leave Iowa with his “share of delegates.” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said it was “too close to call” but assured her supporters that they were one step closer to beating President Trump.
Then there was Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who decided the vacuum didn’t exist.
“What a night!” he yelled to a mass of cheering supporters late Monday, declaring — with zero percent of precincts officially reporting — that “by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.” “Because tonight, an improbable hope became an undeniable reality.”
In truth, that reality was very much deniable.
A Buttigieg aide said that his campaign had received results from 77 percent of its precinct captains, and that those results showed him in position to win the most state delegates.
But this was hardly conclusive: Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign, said he had similar numbers from Mr. Sanders’s precinct captains showing him ahead. And even if the internal results are accurate, results can vary hugely from precinct to precinct, so there is no way to say that 77 percent of the precincts accurately reflect the whole.
“So we don’t know all the results,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “But we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation.”
Warren: ‘We are built for the long haul.’
DES MOINES — Ms. Warren said the early returns in Iowa showed an appetite for her campaign of “big, structural change,” even as official results were muddled by technical difficulties.
In a rare set of prepared remarks, after being introduced by her grandchildren, Ms. Warren repeated a new refrain: “This campaign is for you.” It was in keeping with her attempts to paint herself as the candidate best suited to unite the Democrats’ moderate and progressive wings.
She acknowledged that the race’s official results were still muddled. “It is too close to call. But I’m just going to tell you what I do know,” she said. “As the baby daughter of a janitor, I’m so glad to be on this stage tonight.”
She then gave the sort of positive speech often given by victorious candidates.
“This race started here in Iowa, but from tomorrow it will run ocean to ocean, east to New Hampshire, and then west to Nevada, then down to South Carolina,” she said. “This fight will stretch across all 57 states and territories that make up this great nation until we unite together as a party in Milwaukee. The road won’t be easy. But we are built for the long haul.”
Sanders is feeling confident.
On a frustrating night for every candidate, all of whom were hoping to declare victory quickly and then jet off to New Hampshire, Mr. Sanders tried a bit of humor.
“Let me begin by stating that I imagine — I have a strong feeling — that at some point the results will be announced,” Mr. Sanders told supporters at his election-night watch party. “And when those results are announced, I have a good feeling we’re going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa.”
Biden campaign complains of ‘considerable flaws’ in the reporting process.
DES MOINES — The Biden campaign sent a letter to the Iowa Democratic Party late Monday night citing “considerable flaws” in the reporting system for the caucuses and seeking information from the party before results are made public.
“The integrity of the process is critical, and there were flaws in the reporting systems tonight that should raise serious concerns for voters,” Kate Bedingfield, a deputy campaign manager for Mr. Biden, said on Twitter.
Addressing supporters, Mr. Biden said he wanted to make sure the state party was “very careful in their deliberations” and added that he expected the results to be “close.”
“We’re going to walk out of here with our share of delegates,” he said. “We don’t know exactly what it is yet, but we feel good about where we are.”
In the letter, the Biden campaign’s general counsel, Dana Remus, wrote that the app to relay results from the caucuses had “failed,” and that the backup telephone reporting system had not work either.
“These acute failures are occurring statewide,” Ms. Remus wrote.
Ms. Remus said that campaigns should get more information from the state party — as well as a chance to respond — before official results are made public.
“We believe that the campaigns deserve full explanations and relevant information regarding the methods of quality control you are employing, and an opportunity to respond, before any official results are released,” she wrote.
Klobuchar: ‘We are punching above our weight.’
There may have been no official confirmation of how anyone was doing, Ms. Klobuchar told supporters Monday evening, but she knew she was doing well.
“We know there’s delays,” Ms. Klobuchar said, speaking at the Des Moines Marriott. “But we know one thing — we are punching above our weight.”
“Even in a crowded field of candidates, even during the well-earned impeachment hearing of Donald J. Trump, which had me bolted to my Senate desk for the last two weeks, we kept fighting and you kept fighting for me,” she said. “Somehow, some way, I’m going to get on a plane tonight to New Hampshire, and we are bringing this to New Hampshire.”
‘What’s the math?’ Andrew Yang asks.
“I gotta say, I’m a numbers guy, and we’re still waiting on numbers from tonight,” the former tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang said in a speech to supporters in Des Moines. “We’re all looking around being like, ‘What’s the math?’”
“But the math that I care most about is the fact that this movement has become something that has already shocked the political world,” he added. “And it’s going to keep on going from here — it’s going to keep on growing from here.”
Trump’s campaign manager calls caucuses a ‘train wreck’
In the annals of expected news, President Trump won the G.O.P. caucuses in Iowa.
The contest was largely symbolic: While Democrats have saturated the Iowa airwaves for over a year, Mr. Trump faced little opposition in the Republican caucuses. In past years, Republicans have canceled their caucuses when an incumbent president was running for re-election.
Still, Mr. Trump and his team have used the past week to try and grab some attention away from the Democrats. On Thursday, Mr. Trump drew more than 7,000 fans to a rally where he predicted that Iowa would deliver for him again in November. He also deployed cabinet secretaries, top Republican officials and Trump family members to the state.
The Trump campaign reacted to the confusion on the Democratic side with glee, and questioned the legitimacy of the contest.
“Democrats are stewing in a caucus mess of their own creation with the sloppiest train wreck in history,” said Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager. “It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process. And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system?”
Bloomberg looks beyond Iowa.
COMPTON, Calif. — There’s one candidate saying that whatever happens in Iowa tonight does not matter all that much: Mr. Bloomberg.
The former New York mayor spent Monday flying through California, stopping in Sacramento, Fresno and Compton. He shook hands with voters, took a few questions from reporters and plans to get on a plane to Michigan tonight.
Mr. Bloomberg is waging an extremely unconventional campaign, skipping the first four early states entirely and instead focusing on Super Tuesday and beyond.
“I’m a believer that if you want to fight the last war, you believe things like whoever wins Iowa goes all the way,” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview at a community center in Compton on Monday. “You believe that only six states matter. That was the last election. That’s not true today.”
Early voting officially began Monday in California, and Mr. Bloomberg is urging supporters to cast a ballot for him now. Though Mr. Bloomberg mostly demurred from playing pundit, he stands to gain if the moderates stumble in Iowa.
Maggie Astor, Nick Corasaniti, Reid J. Epstein, Trip Gabriel, Shane Goldmacher, Michael Grynbaum, Astead W. Herndon, Thomas Kaplan, Lisa Lerer, Jennifer Medina, Jonathan Martin, Nicole Perlroth and Jeremy W. Peters contributed reporting.